FG Intensifies Debt Recovery Drive, Flags Off Sensitization Programme In South East

By Tony Adibe

The Federal Government of Nigeria through Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, (FMFBNP), said it has intensified efforts to recover debts across the federation to improve government revenue.

The Director, Special Projects, FMFBNP, Aisha Omar said this during a 1-day South -East Zonal sensitisation workshop on Federal Government debt recovery drive through Project Lighthouse on Tuesday in Enugu. Omar explained that the  ministry  has recovered over N57 billion out of about N5.2 trillion owed by over 5,000 debtors across more than 93 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

She stated that the project was designed by federal government to track all the debts owed the MDAs by its clients to ensure improved revenue to the government. Omar said: “One of the key economic policy objectives is improving Federal Government revenues by targeting and increasing revenues from non-oil revenue sources. An important part of our policies and strategies is to leverage big data technology to help block revenue loopholes, identify new revenue opportunities, optimize existing revenue streams especially non-oil revenue as well as improve fiscal transparency.

“In actualizing this goal, the Federal Ministry of Finance initiated ‘Project Lighthouse’, which has enabled the aggregation of relevant economic and financial information from multiple agencies who hitherto did not share data. Generally, revenue loopholes have been aided by poor information sharing and enforcement.

“Data from Project Lighthouse revealed that many companies and individuals, who owe government agencies, who have refused to honour their obligations were still being paid especially through the government platforms such as GIFMIS and Treasury Single Account (TSA) due to lack of visibility over these transactions.

“These debts are in the form of debt liabilities to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS); refunds to the Government by companies who failed to deliver on projects for which payment had been made, unpaid credit facilities granted to both corporate entities and individuals by the Bank of Industry (BOI) and Bank of Agriculture (BOA); Judgment Debt in favor of Government, debts owed Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) by Insurance Companies etc.

“It may interest you to note that the Ministry through the consolidation efforts of the Debt Analytics & Reporting Application, has been able to aggregate monumental debts of approximately 5.2 trillion. These debts came to the spotlight from data aggregated from over 5,000+ debtors across more than 93 Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).

“The debt aggregation effort is still ongoing. Currently, approximately 57 billion has been recovered so far from this amount and due to concerted efforts on the part of stakeholders and Federal Government.

“It is worth noting that the usefulness of this platform for our revenue generation effort will be dependent on your cooperation and commitment in providing quality and relevant information (debt-related data) to populate the platform. It is also our belief that your organization stand to benefit immensely from the intelligence that Project Lighthouse will be producing. We are counting on your continuous support to ensure the full realization of the goals and aspirations of this laudable project.”

She urged all the ministries, agencies, MDAS to collaborate with the ministry of finance to achieve success and change the revenue story of the country. According to her, “it is my firm belief that together we can dramatically change our revenue story by fully and innovatively exploiting the great power of Big Data Analytics, Data Science and related technologies. I therefore wish to urge all stakeholders to put in their best to ensure the successful implementation of this initiative.”

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